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Ecofeminism & Radical Green Thinking

What is radical green thinking?

Radical is often associated with Left politics & philosophies Inspired in some fashion by Marxist or Marxian approaches Focuses on the relations of power expressed through material conditions of social being

All radical green thought originates in 19th century philosophies

Their roots are in liberalism They are humanistic rather than organic They derive from marxist & socialist theories They tend to be somewhat economistic & materialistic

Radical green thought sees domination as a primary problem

Modern society is primarily capitalist Capitalism is driven by profit motive Capitalism is based on surplus value Surplus value comes from labor & nature Labor comes in many forms: workers, women, minorities Domination of labor leads to domination of nature Accumulation of power & capital are parallel

Power is embedded in specific social relations, which allows domination & exploitation

Such relations of domination are present in many spheres of social life

Who or what is responsible for such domination and injustice?

Capitalists, most of whom (but not all) are men though system logic Men, most of whom (but not all) are patriarchal through socialization Society, most of which perpetuates injustice through naturalization Modernity, which perpetuates illusion of management & control Ideology, which legitimates & perpetuates hegemony by calling it natural

Nature is an object of human desire, rather than a subject of our respect This may be the result of material factors or ideological ones The result is that nature is exploited & ultimately destroyed Second contradiction of capitalism

Radical green philosophies see such domination in human-nature relations, in particular, as a threat & injustice

Thus, the environmental crisis arises out of the class and competitive elements of capitalism, the domination of human by human, and the domination of nature by "man"

Does this, therefore, imply that nature will eventually rise up and overthrow human domination?

Depends who you ask

Eco-feminism comes out of this philosophical vein, but in several varieties: The domination of women & nature are linked due to
Valuing of both as providing free resources Deep institutionalization of patriarchal relations & property rights of men Emphasis on rationality, which prizes calculation & demeans emotion Naturalizes inferiority of both

Consider the following ecofeminisms:

Essentialistaccept the caring element in the mother-child relationship Religiousrestore pagan pantheist womens worship Post-moderndowngrade rationality as the measure of everyday life Structuralistcritique & deconstruct naturalized power relations

Essentialist eco-feminism (Nel Noddings)

Women are naturally more sensitive to nature This is seen in the mother child relationship That is an emotional bond, and not a contractual one Boys are taught to demean this bond & be rational Women must take the lead in restoring proper humannature relations

Religious ecofeminism (Starhawk)

In prehistoric times, human bands were matriarchal Earth Goddess(es) were heads of pantheist religions Protection of Earth was the primary command Return to Goddess worship (or Gaia) is a way out of our dilemma

Post-modern ecofeminism (Carolyn

The scientific revolution saw nature as a bundle of secrets to be revealed by research & reason This could be done only by reducing nature to its constituent parts Reason thus became highly valued, as opposed to intuition, emotion & chaos We must give up the notion of progress and revelation of natures secrets to restore proper human-nature relations

Post-structural ecofeminism (Nol Sturgeon)

Domination is naturalized through ideology & practice It is through naturalization that power is both rationalized and exercised Relentless critique of beliefs & practices will reveal how this is happening Ultimately, such critique will reveal the truth, and people will change for the better

Motherhood is a social, not just biological, fact Boys reject their relationship with their mother; girls do not Conviction of separateness is a male illusion Knowledge is contextual and embodied/bodily Women measure themselves through relationships & an ethic of care This should be the basis of an ecological ethic

Mellor focuses on the gendering of economic systems & effects on the natural world Most economies are dualist & gendered, & devalue womens work ($15-45 trillion/yr.) This is concerned with the human body & basic needs Link of humanity with natural being is thereby diminished Both nature and women are diminished and degraded Provisioning offers an alternative

Dobson is contrasting ecologism with ecofeminism Identifies different forms of ecofeminism:
Difference feminism Deconstructive feminism Materialist feminism

And distinguishes ecologism from these because

They are andocentric and Dont address limits to growth

Ecologism does not seem too concerned about domination

Philosophical standpoint Essentialist

Representative author Nel Noddings

Central argument or concern Mother-child relationship = "natural caring" Indigenous women are closer to nature Goddess worship was/is ecofriendly Patriarchy is psychosocially reproduced in individuals Unequal representation of women Unequal distribution of resources to women & children Sex/gendered division of labor subordinates women and nature Science sees nature as female & women as natural Ecofeminisms must be deconstructed so as to not be essentialist

Primary goal Replacement of male-dominated ethical systems Establishing a closer bond with nature Recreate pagan pantheist feminism Eliminate binary socialization of boys & girls Equal political and economic power for women and men Just distribution of resources and power Eliminate domination of women & nature by men Eliminate dominance of rationalism in analysis & action Denaturalize all categories so that power is exposed

Means of achieving goal A society with "mothers of both sexes" Learning beliefs & practices of indigenous women Practice Celtic, Wiccan religions Non-gendered environment in home & elsewhere Affirmative action, political access, economic success Greater access for women to economic resources United struggle to end male domination; womens decolonization Restore holism & organicism to life & action Relentless critique of ideological positions

Critique Only addresses close relationships Tends towards essentialism Anti-rationalist magical thinking Fails to address societys role in reproduction Individualistic; does not address structural issues Distributive justice offers weak structural critique Why should movement coalitions be Green? Here there be dragons! No political program, only critique


Joanna Macy

Cultural-religious Psycho-social

Starhawk Carol Adams


Karen Warren


Vandana Shiva


Mary Mellor


Carolyn Merchant


Nol Sturgeon